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Heretics by Leonardo Padura


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A Maxim Jakubowski selected title.

An epic, ambitious novel by the prominent Cuban thriller writer Leonardo Padura which brings back his eponymous hero Mario Conde but also delivers so much more to the table. Beginning with the arrival on a fated boat of a Jewish family, fleeing the coming cloud of WW2, in Havana in the 1930s only to be turned back until an illegal deal is struck involving a rare Rembrandt painting of the head of Christ, the tale conflagrates in a variety of directions. The child of the family ends growing up in Cuba and many decades later engages Conde to investigate the fate of the painting. A sweeping tale of the Jewish diaspora and customs, the history of art and Amsterdam in the 17th century as well as an impeccable thriller, this is writing at top notch level combining a wealth of fascinating information and details that blend in seamlessly with the narrative where the whole ends up more striking than the individual elements. Long but eminently rewarding. ~ Maxim Jakubowski


Heretics by Leonardo Padura

A sweeping novel of art theft, anti-Semitism, contemporary Cuba, and crime from a renowned Cuban author. In 1939, the Saint Louis sails from Hamburg into Havana's port with hundreds of Jewish refugees seeking asylum from the Nazi regime. From the docks, nine-year-old Daniel Kaminsky watches as the passengers, including his mother, father, and sister, become embroiled in a fiasco of Cuban corruption. But the Kaminskys have a treasure that they hope will save them: a small Rembrandt portrait of Christ. Yet six days later the vessel is forced to leave the harbor with the family, bound for the horrors of Europe. The Kaminskys, along with their priceless heirloom, disappear.Nearly seven decades later, the Rembrandt reappears in an auction house in London, prompting Daniel's son to travel to Cuba to track down the story of his family's lost masterpiece. He hires the down-on-his-luck private detective Mario Conde, and together they navigate a web of deception and violence in the morally complex city of Havana.In Heretics, Leonardo Padura takes us from the tenements and beaches of Cuba to Rembrandt's gloomy studio in seventeenth-century Amsterdam, telling the story of people forced to choose between the tenets of their faith and the realities of the world, between their personal desires and the demands of their times. A grand detective story and a moving historical drama, Padura's novel is as compelling, mysterious, and enduring as the painting at its centre.

About the Author

Leonardo Padura

Leonardo Padura was born in Havana, Cuba, in 1955. A novelist, journalist, and critic, he is the author of several novels, one collection of essays, and a volume of short stories. His novels featuring the detective Mario Conde have been translated into many languages and have won literary prizes around the world. The Man Who Loved Dogs was a finalist for Book of the Year in Spain.

Author photo © Ivan Giménez Tusquets Editores 2006

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Book Info

Publication date

6th April 2017


Leonardo Padura

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Bitter Lemon Press


556 pages


Crime / Mystery
Historical Fiction
eBook Favourites

Crime & mystery
Modern & contemporary fiction (post c 1945)



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